Last week, during the first ever #Maniexp at Chelsea Market here in New York City, I had an opportunity to talk with CMO David Rossi about Manischewitz, their new gluten-free product line roll outs for Passover and how they keep everything separated.
Oh you didn’t know? Yes, over the last few years Manischewitz has begun to roll out some gluten-free products, one of which is has been something of a Holy Grail (pardon the mixed religious metaphors) in the gluten-free world of foods: matzoh, the “bread” Jewish people eat during the feast of Passover. And as Passover is around the corner, your local stores should have the new gluten-free line of goodies stocked up, including two different kinds of matzoh-types.
Allergic Girl: Talk to us about your new gluten-free line of products? Why did you create them?
David Rossi: “Manischewitz is known for being in the gluten business but it didn't go unnoticed that gluten-free requests and gluten-free products were starting to pop up in the marketplace. Talking to consumers, we found that more had celiac, allergies or a preference for GF. As our job is to find out what consumer is looking for and try to meet that need, we thought it was time for this kind of product.”
AG: What is the timeline of when you started to roll out gluten-free products?
DR: “Our first products were gluten-free noodles for Passover three years ago.
Then cake mixes that were gluten-free. Then plain matzoh launched two years ago.
Flavored matzoh just launched this year as well as a gluten-free matzoh ball mix.”
(You can find the whole list of their products here on their website Manischewitz.
Double click on "products" bar to get a listing to sort by allergen.)
AG: Manischewitz uses GFco group to get certified; the Manischewitz standard is 10 parts per million (the FDA standards is 20 ppm). Why are you using GFco as your gluten-free certifier?
DR: "We wanted to have stricter standards than what the FDA requires and we wanted third party verification."
AG: How does your facility segregate ingredients and/or allergens?
DR: "We have four sections in our 125,000 square foot facility in Newark, New Jersey. Each section is closed off by walls. Generally speaking the sections are: Wet, fish – all liquids, soups, sauces. Mixes, meals – dry powdered mixes, too. Crackers & matzoh. And the last room are cookies that have nuts."
(Manischewitz has a 600 product line, some products are made offsite that have nuts as well and that is stated on the label.)
AG: So you use GFco group to certify your gluten-free line. Do you send out any other products for third party allergen testing?
DR: “No, we don't test for other allergens. We do a full clean up in between all products. That’s not just sweeping floors or a rinse. On most equipment, say, making matzoh, we clean out all of the parts of machine, tubing, running belts, ovens; cleaning all bands or anything that comes into contact for ingredients. Every part of the machine is cleaned to the highest order possible. We get certification from vendors as to what ingredients are being sent to us. We utilize GMP (good manufacturing practices) and that gets us 90 percent of the way to be able to make allergy friendly processes. Remember: Rabbis and keeping Kosher is part of our food manufacturing process. We've always had great record keeping, tracking and are used to be supervised.”
(Here’s more about their Kosher certifier: https://oukosher.org/)
AG: Any additional thoughts?
DR: “For those of you with special dietary needs, I’d suggest checking out the Kosher section of market as we have a lot of products that may meet your needs. Manischewitz is about segregation of ingredients, being watched by third parties (Koshering bodies and Rabbis) and tracking ingredients – for us this is comes easily. It’s what we’ve been doing since 1888. Remember: Parve is Hebrew for neutral – means not dairy nor meat and supervised by Kosher authorities. Ninety-five percent of the 600 products that Manischewitz make are parve. And there are no dairy products in the entire Manischewitz facility."
(This is major news: there are no dairy products in the entire Manischewitz facility. They have dairy items in the Manischewitz line but they are made by third party. Not even packaged in the Manischewitz facility. For further questions use this link http://manischewitz.com/contact-us/ - they'd love to hear from you!)
Thank you, David and Manischewitz, exciting news!
I'm running a contest. Five  entrants will be chosen at random to win a box of gluten-free matzoh from Manischewitz.
Enter by joining my Allergic Girl newsletter here.
*Contest rules: open through 12:00am EST on March 30, 2015 starting today (March 25, 2015, 9:00am); winners are picked using random.org and limited to residents of the continental United States.*